B.C. Riley
Green Right Now

Red Wolf and pups (Photo: Greg Kosh, US Fish and Wildlife Service.)

Red Wolves, commonly mistaken as coyotes, have stunning copper and gray coats. They live in packs composed of one alpha male and one female, along with their litter. When their pups are age 2, the males begin the search for another female to start their own packs, and their parents continue having litters once a year.

This majestic creature was reintroduced into North Carolina in 1987 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 7 years after being extinct in the wild. They are now critically endangered, with at least 100 believed to be surviving in the wild. Thankfully, their population is rising, but it is still limited to the Southeast region of the US, in an area far smaller than their original range.

Facts about Red Wolves:

  • Red Wolves mate for life, forming strong bonds with their partner
  • They are mostly nocturnal, preferring to roam around at dawn and dusk
  •  Pups stay with their parents until about age 2, and usually live 6-9 years (although they can live up to 15 years in captivity)
  •  Red Wolves weigh 45 to 90 lbs, about the same as German shepherds

The major threat to the red wolf population is hybridization with coyotes. At the time they were reintroduced into the wild, the coyote population was small, but has recently begun to flourish in some areas. In addition, vehicle deaths and accidental gunshot deaths endanger the few red wolves left.

A recovery program for the red wolves continues to aid in their conservation, and hunting red wolves is now illegal. Find out more about red wolves and the recovery program at the US Fish and Wildlife Service.